Cancer Survivor

Sonia Rodriguez was a typical 15-year-old, until the day she woke up with a lump in her throat. At first she chalked it up to a pulled muscle, but eventually she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the disease that had taken her grandmother’s life just a few years earlier.

As her normal life came to a halt, Sonia found comfort and strength in the large circle of family and friends who accompanied her to every appointment. Under the care of pediatric oncologist Julio C. Barredo, M.D., and the physicians and nurses at alex’s place at Sylvester, Sonia underwent surgery and chemotherapy.

Two years later, she is cancer-free, studying to be a veterinarian, and committed to raising awareness about cancer research. At DCC XI, she bravely shared her story, bringing hope and comfort to young adults and adolescents facing the same challenges.

I hope for a future where cancer is a thing of the past.

Watch as Sonia recounts
her cancer journey.

Through the DCC, we;ve been able to recruit new faculty, start new programs, and expand on the research we do in pediatric oncology, particularly in the area of acute leukemia.

Julio C. Barredo, M.D.
Professor of Pediatrics, Medicine, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Toppel Family Endowed Chair in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology
Director, Children’s Cancer Programs at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
Director, Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology
Medical Director, alex’s place at Sylvester and Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Holtz Children’s Hospital
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Dcc Impact

Through the support of the DCC, the pediatric oncology unit at Sylvester has expanded, hiring new faculty, starting new programs, and making significant advancements in research. At alex’s place, the state-of-the-art pediatric hematology-oncology clinic, countless young patients, like Sonia, have been treated and provided the chance to live a full life. 

In Dr. Barredo’s laboratory, researchers have made significant advances in investigating drug resistance and developing new targeted therapies for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who have relapsed or not responded to chemotherapy. 

Dr. Barredo’s findings on leukemia cell energy processes were translated into a new clinical trial using the anti-diabetic drug metformin, in combination with chemotherapy, for children and adolescents who were relapsing or not responding to treatment. Given the positive responses, they are working towards incorporating metformin into more standard regimens for ALL. 

Sylvester is the lead for a Phase 1 clinical trial using a new compound to target a process specific to leukemia cells, which would affect the cell’s ability to survive. 

The Adolescent and Young Adult program was recently created to serve patients ages 15 to 39 who are faced with special challenges from the lasting impact of receiving cancer treatment at such young ages. Services include infertility options, psycho-social support, sexual health counseling, assistance with financial concerns, and survivorship.

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